MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade County will begin a battle against Sargassum seaweed in Miami Beach on Friday.
If you have been to the beach lately, there is a good chance you have seen the piles of seaweed on the shoreline and in the water.
Sargassum is a naturally occurring, free-floating seaweed that grows in open water.
Experts say while it is an important resource which protects marine life, such as endangered baby sea turtles from predators, when it accumulates on the beaches, it becomes a smelly, rotting problem. That problem isn’t just for beach-goers but also the same baby sea turtles which could get trapped in the seaweed and never make it into the ocean.
That is why Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has approved an emergency contract for the removal of Sargassum on beaches with the most accumulation.
The Mayor also requested an extended clean-up permit from Governor Ron DeSantis.
This emergency measure will provide resources until the end of the current fiscal year as the County identifies additional resources for fiscal 2019-20.
“I expected white sands, blue sea and that I what I expected and not seaweed and garbage,” said a German tourist.
“What’s worse is when it dries and it really gets smelly. That’s the worst part,” says local resident Jeff Dogusig.
Tourists from West Virginia had their say about the issue.
“This is terrible, never have seen this that all black never been like that,” said Britany Schau.
But cousin Joey was not all that bothered.
“This ain’t the Ohio River I will take this any day all day. Just happy to be here,” Joey Schu says.
The open water seaweed does make regular appearances on local beaches but not in this volume.
Scientists say warmer water has spurred growth. Daily clean-up can’t keep up.
Tourism boosters are calling it a crisis and Miami-Dade County which controls the beach are coming to the rescue.
“Thankfully the county is stepping up to the plate and helping us to remediate the seaweed coming onshore,” said Vice Mayor Ricky Arriola.
The beach was closed Thursday evening, but Friday morning the county will be there with all their equipment to help clean the beach as much as possible.
Mayor Gimenez told county commissioners last week that the seaweed issue is a “crisis” that could hurt Miami tourism.
Scientists see climate change as making the current inundation worse.